In an attempt to minimise the damage caused by former home minister RR Patil’s ‘rape’ remarks, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday condemned the statement, saying it was not in sync with his party’s views.
Speaking at a media interaction organised by an association of reporters, Pawar also asked the media to draw curtains on the issue as Patil had apologised to him for making those remarks.
Patil had joked that the MNS candidate jailed for rape could have waited for the end of the elections before committing the crime.
When asked if the statement made by the senior leader was appropriate during an election campaign, Pawar said, “Such a statement is not appropriate at any time, not just during the elections. Our party’s position has always been to empower women and hence I condemn it. I spoke to him and made my displeasure known. He has admitted that he made the statement in the fervour of campaigning and has apologised about it. We are putting an end to the matter,” Pawar said.
In a candid interaction, the NCP chief also said that his party had demanded an equal number of seats as well as the chief minister’s post during the seat sharing talks. This was a part and parcel of poll negotiations, he said, and suggested that his party would have settled for 125 to 128 seats in seat sharing talks.
“This is the second time in 15 years that we are contesting solo, but this time it is different because we had prepared to contest only between 125 and 130 seats. As we are now contesting all 288 seats, our campaign could be lacking in some aspects,’’ said Pawar.
Just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took on Pawar on his home turf in Baramati, the former slammed him for lowering the prestige of the PM’s post by making personal attacks.
“The standard of public debate has been lowered by those occupying it. Personal attacks are given priority in speeches,” said Pawar.
“He has to focus on priorities. At least appoint a full time defence minister so that the morale of the defence forces is boosted,’ he said.